Heel bursitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the bursa located at the back of the heel bone. The bursa is a small fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between bones, tendons, and muscles, helping to reduce friction and allow for smooth movement. When the bursa becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and swelling in the heel, making it difficult to walk or put weight on the affected foot. Common causes of heel bursitis include overuse, injury, or repetitive stress on the heel, and it is often seen in athletes or people who spend long periods of time on their feet.
Causes of Heel Bursitis
Heel bursitis can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Overuse or repetitive stress on the heel: Activities that involve repetitive motions or excessive pressure on the heel, such as running, jumping, or standing for long periods, can cause irritation and inflammation of the bursa.
Direct injury: Trauma to the heel, such as from a fall or impact, can damage the bursa and lead to inflammation.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes: Shoes that do not fit properly or provide adequate support can cause friction and pressure on the heel, leading to bursitis.
Preexisting medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis, can increase the risk of developing bursitis.
Infection: In rare cases, heel bursitis can be caused by an infection in the bursa, which can lead to swelling, redness, and fever.
Biomechanical issues: Abnormalities in foot structure or gait can lead to excessive pressure on the heel, causing bursitis over time.
It is important to identify the underlying cause of heel bursitis in order to determine the most effective treatment plan. A healthcare professional can help diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment.
Signs and Symptoms for Heel Bursitis
The signs and symptoms of heel bursitis can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but common ones include:
- Pain in the back of the heel: The most common symptom of heel bursitis is pain at the back of the heel, which can be sharp or dull in nature.
- Swelling and tenderness: Inflammation of the bursa can cause swelling and tenderness around the back of the heel.
- Stiffness and limited range of motion: Bursitis can cause stiffness in the heel joint, making it difficult to move or flex the foot.
- Redness and warmth: In more severe cases, the affected area may be red and warm to the touch.
- Difficulty walking: Pain and stiffness in the heel can make it difficult to walk or put weight on the affected foot.
- Pain with activity: Pain and discomfort may be worse during activities that put pressure on the heel, such as walking, running, or jumping.
- Thickening of the skin: Over time, chronic heel bursitis can cause thickening of the skin over the affected area.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention can help prevent further damage and improve recovery time.
Treatment of Heel Bursitis
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for heel bursitis. The goals of physiotherapy for heel bursitis are to reduce pain and inflammation, improve range of motion, and strengthen the muscles around the heel to prevent future injuries. Here are some common physiotherapy treatments for heel bursitis:
Rest and ice: Resting the affected foot and applying ice to the heel can help reduce inflammation and pain.
Stretching and range-of-motion exercises: A physiotherapist can prescribe stretching and range-of-motion exercises to help increase flexibility and mobility in the heel.
Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can help improve the strength and stability of the muscles around the heel, reducing the risk of future injuries.
Manual therapy: Manual therapy techniques, such as massage or mobilization, can help improve circulation and reduce pain in the affected area.
Taping or bracing: A physiotherapist may use taping or bracing techniques to provide support and reduce pressure on the heel.
Footwear and orthotics: Wearing supportive footwear or orthotics can help reduce pressure on the heel and improve foot mechanics.
Education and advice: A physiotherapist can provide education and advice on proper foot care and techniques to prevent future injuries.
It is important to consult a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist, for proper diagnosis and treatment of heel bursitis. They can develop an individualized treatment plan to address your specific needs and help you recover as quickly as possible.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about heel bursitis please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Cukelj F, Klobucar H, Plavec D. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Versus Corticosteroid Injection in the Treatment of Chronic Plantar Heel Pain Due to Calcaneal Enthesopathy: A Prospective, Randomized, Comparative Clinical Study. Medicina (Kaunas).